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Social networking powerhouse Facebook has launched a brand new app called Internet.org which will provide basic mobile internet for free to the African country of Zambia.
Internet.org, announced today, seeks to provide internet services to areas where access is low or has been difficult to implement. Fixed line internet can be tough to install in certain locations, but mobile's a little easier - and as product director Guy Rosen explained in a blog post, 85 percent of the entire world lives near cellular coverage. But just 30 percent of the world is connected. Zambia is the very first market Facebook's launching Internet.org in, and Airtel subscribers will be the first to trial the service.
"Affordability and awareness are significant barriers to internet adoption for many and today we are introducing the Internet.org app to make the internet accessible to more people by providing a set of free basic services," Rosen said in the post. "With this app, people can browse a set of useful health, employment and local information services without data charges. By providing free basic services via the app, we hope to bring more people online and help them discover valuable services they might not have otherwise."
Now that some of the more popular torrenting software is available on portable devices, it was only a matter of time before the likes of The Pirate Bay optimized their websites for mobile.
Head on over to The Mobile Bay and you'll notice that the site looks nice and clean on mobile devices, scaled down and with a bit more room to breathe. The Pirate Bay told TorrentFreak that its website rendered poorly (or "like crap") on mobile, and so a refresh was inevitable. Mobile users are automatically redirected to the domain, although users will have the option of using the desktop layout if they like. The idea is that each section of the world's most notorious torrent indexer will get its own dedicated page - so users looking for TV episodes would be able to find season packs easily as well as see episode overviews.
Of course, in countries where such websites are blocked anyway mobile users will need to find their own proxies to access The Mobile Bay. As smart devices become ever more pervasive, it's no surprise to see The Pirate Bay paying attention to its consumer UX needs, in much the same way legal services have had to catch up too.
The "Hack North Korea" hackathon event is scheduled to take place next month in San Francisco, organized by The Human Rights Foundation. Instead of trying to target North Korean infrastructure with malicious attacks, event organizers hope to create ideas to help better educate the impoverished country's citizens.
Trying to get information into the country is extremely difficult - and dangerous - with techniques ranging from smuggling in CDs, DVDs and flash drives all the way to using shortwave radio and dropping leaflets into North Korea. Some North Korean citizens living along the border with China are using Chinese-made smartphones to use the Internet, but can be heavily punished if found with the device.
"Participants will become familiar with the various ways that information and truth are smuggled into North Korea today, and gain an understanding of the technology landscape inside the country," according to the Human Rights Foundation. "Then, guided by our North Korean guests, attendees will break into teams to come up with new ways to help end the Kim dictatorship's monopoly of information on the twenty-five million people living under its rule."
Britain is wholeheartedly rejecting its government approved 'porn filters' as customers signing up to internet providers for the first time opt out in droves, according to an official regulator.
Ofcom, the independent body that monitors the activities of telecoms providers, notes that under one in seven homes are actually making use of the content filters, introduced by the British Prime Minister David Cameron (pictured) and earning him the nickname Kim Jong Cameron. Top operators BT and Sky introduced the measures in late 2013. The announcement was deeply unpopular and led to calls of censorship, although the agreement between government and internet providers is technically voluntary. At the time it was represented as a measure designed to protect children.
Of the top companies running the scheme, TalkTalk has the most users making most of it at 36 percent. However, a paltry four percent of Virgin Media customers are switching off the porn, followed by five percent of BT customers and eight percent of Sky customers. "Ofcom's report clearly highlighted where Virgin Media has fallen short in meeting our original commitments," Tom Mockridge, ISP Virgin Media's chief exec said, according to Digital Spy. "We take our responsibility to help families stay safe online very seriously and have taken immediate action to improve how we meet our commitments to government."
Facebook and other social media services, while extremely popular, suffer from low customer satisfaction, according to a recent survey released by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
Overall, social media companies ranked the fourth-lowest among consumer satisfaction, only ahead of Internet service providers, subscription television companies and airline companies. Pinterest had the highest consumer satisfaction index, ranking at 76, ahead of Wikipedia (74), YouTube (73), Google+ (71), Twitter (69), LinkedIn (67) and Facebook (67). The social media category garnered an overall score of 71.
The North Korean government is upset about a video that shows Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un's face Photoshopped onto people acting ridiculously. Kim's face is cleverly placed on scenes from TV shows, movies and other popular viral dance videos - and garnered the type of response its video creator expected. Music used in the video originates from the Chopstick Brothers, a popular Chinese group.
Chinese citizen Zhang made the video, living in the southeastern city of Suzhou, who studied in South Korea at Kyonggi University.
The North Korean government has asked China to prevent the video from being shared, worried the short clip "seriously compromises Kim's dignity and authority." However, Beijing will not adhere to the request, as the video becomes even more popular.
Users who now enter piracy related keywords into Google will see legal content promoted above anything that's against the law.
If users type in keywords like torrent, Putlocker or DVDrip, they will be shown what they are looking for - but Google will prioritize results like Netflix and Hulu above the search results. And Google Play, its own content selling service, is one of these that it promotes. It's an interesting premise that operates on the good faith assumption of people looking for these terms will be interested in their legal alternatives. For some Googlers this will be the case, but we strongly suspect it won't be for all or even most of them. However, this does not seem to have reached the UK just yet, so it's possible Google is running a trial in selected markets.
This rollout appears to have been done on the quiet but is rather all-encompassing - high-risk pirate search terms like a TV title followed by 'watch' will lead to a similar set of results, as well as keywords like 'view' or 'download'. "These ads will appear after various searches that include specific movie, TV, and music titles," a spokesperson for Google told TorrentFreak.
In a strangely self-referential post, Britain's public broadcasting network, the BBC, has outlined the technical issues that have been plaguing, well, the BBC.
Although issues continued throughout the weekend, BBC News has now published a post that speaks about the problems. Its iPlayer service - the flagship streaming website that allows Brits to watch TV live, on demand, or listen to the radio for free provided they pay a licence fee - was struggling for unspecified reasons. Some users were unable to access the service at all, while the BBC website was forced to display a basic version. It led to speculation from some online users the network was victim of a Denial of Service attack. The iPlayer is critically acclaimed for its service and pioneering of official on-demand streaming.
The corporation put out tweets saying it hoped the service would be back up and running soon, as well as issuing an official apology. UK internet providers also noticed something was wrong. "The final fixes for the problems were expected to be applied on 21 July when the vast majority of people should be able reach the web-based video services as normal," the BBC News website says. "The BBC said it would issue a statement when it knew more about the cause of the glitches."
China has an economy that is booming and as more and more Chinese citizens increase their spending power, adoption of smartphones, internet access, and other items is growing significantly. Over the last several years internet adoption in China has been growing like crazy.
However, a new report has found that internet adoption in China has declined to levels not seen in the last eight years. China added 14.4 million new internet users in the first half of 2014 making the slowest growth rate recorded in the last eight years.
China is the world's largest internet using population. It appears that usage in major cities and urban areas is becoming saturated and rollout of internet in rural areas is struggling. In those rural areas, about 450 million people never get online. Internet penetration in China is currently at 46.9% compared to the 87% penetration rate in America.
It doesn't look like Google will be bringing its super-fast web service, Fiber, to the United Kingdom just yet - or have plans for anywhere outside the US.
Although a report in Britain's Telegraph talked of the possibility of Fiber heading to the UK in partnership with local provider CityFibre, a spokesperson told Engadget that it's probably best not to read too much into it. "We have informal conversations with other telecom companies all the time," the spokesperson said. "But we've never had any serious planning discussions about bringing Google Fiber to Britain." It's not exactly surprising that Google was keen to quash the rumor - it is stepping on enough toes in the United States with its immensely anticipated rollout of Fiber. That said, it's also a limited rollout, available only in a handful of cities thus far.
Google Fiber promises as much as 1 gigabit per second download and upload speeds, which is a veritable triumph over many of even the most comprehensive and speedy packages available from other providers in the United States and further afield. So it's not something to be ruled out from happening completely, but there will likely be a lot of groundwork to do closer to home before Google gets more ambitious abroad.